I’m here today to talk about my experience here in Blagoevgrad and more precisely about my volunteering at EUni Partners.
It was such an amazing experience! I can’t believe it’s been almost the end of my volunteering!
The first time I heard about the association, was when I went to the Erasmus Day presentation organized by my association in France, and this is where I met Maxime for the first time too! He spoke about Bulgaria, how were the people, what he was doing in general, and what was a typical day in his daily life. And I was so impressed! His association and coordinators seemed very nice for how fondly he spoke about them, I thought that he was lucky to be in this good environment, I was a little bit jealous, to be honest! 😀
But then, one day, my coordinator called me, saying that his association was looking for someone! I was beyond thrilled, and I immediately send an SMS to Maxime. Unfortunately, it was not the right one, but it must have been destiny because I received an email from him the next day, asking if was interested to have a meeting with him and his coordinator! After a second one, I was officially recruited!
I had only a week to prepare myself and I was so excited! My parents were on vacation and would have only a few hours to share with me before driving me to the airport for the beginning of my volunteering. My mom was very emotional just like my dad, but they were happy to see me starting a new experience.
In all honesty, I deeply needed to live something like this. I made tourism studies, and after that, when I was in a Hotel Management professional diploma, I can now say that I made a depression. I wasn’t going out with my friends, didn’t see the point of being outside, close myself to every form of outside communication, and didn’t know what to do with my life. I was very lost, and then came the Covid. The entire 2020 year was a reflection on myself, and why I was having this behaviour that at the time I didn’t really understand.
In early 2021 I decided to take a new path, by becoming a veterinary nurse assistant. I was confident in my choice and very motivated, and I found a good school that would provide me with the best diploma, I just had to find a veterinary cabinet that would take me as an apprentice. And I found it after sending more than 50 application letters! And then my coordinator at the veterinary cabinet just let me down, the day the inscription was closing. His excuse: I was too outgoing and independent. Let me tell you that it made me laugh very, VERY hard.
So, I decided that it was finally time for me to get rid of my fear, and my doubt, and to go abroad. I didn’t care about the destination, I just wanted to go out of my country to go forward and maybe find a new way to express myself and build back all the lack of confidence in me. When I was chosen to come here to Bulgaria, I was beyond heaven, finally feeling worthy in the eyes of someone.
When I arrived in Sofia, I was already a bit prepared, I learned the Cyrillic alphabet back home, and I knew how to present myself and the politeness forms. I took a taxi from the airport to the central bus station, and during my ride, I had a long talk with my taxi driver (in English of course!)! He explained to me some local specialties, that he went to work in France for a long time before coming back to Bulgaria and explained some of his personal life. I was happy that my first talk with a Bulgarian person went so smoothly because I know that it can be a bit difficult when we don’t speak the same language.
At the bus station, I called my mom to tell her that everything was fine and did the same with one of my aunts who was very worried to see me leaving so far away. Then I send a text to Maxime, and he told me to have a good ride, and that he would be there to take me from the bus station.
The funny part was that he didn’t come! He was late, so it is Hauke who came to meet me, just like the responsible guy he is. I will always remember seeing this giant blond guy, searching for someone with his eyes, in the sea of average-height brown-haired people, I just remember myself thinking “Oh, that must be Hauke.” And this is how my adventure started in Blagoevgrad!
It was very easy for me to integrate with my incredible flatmates, my coordinators, and with all the other volunteers and friends! They were very welcoming toward me, so I felt completely at ease around them. I think I have a memory with each of them, so many to count. I will keep them close to my heart and talk about what we lived during our experience here forever! It brought to me so many things, just to meet people with completely different backgrounds from mine, and so many different countries! It is amazing; when people leave, we see how much of an impact they had on ourselves. We grow a lot when we experience such a thing, and we can think about our lives more clearly.
I also developed a lot of professional skills without even seeing it! Management, team building, and online promotion are the main ones that I improved by working on events with my co-workers and I am happy to see that I feel more confident with my professional skills in general.
I had the chance to travel all around Bulgaria to visit but also work on my personal project which was to write a guided book about the country, and I also had the opportunity to visit neighbouring countries too. I took my time to discover the culture and this new way of living, and I appreciate it a lot! A small adaptation had to be done of course but when you do so, life is lovely here! Snowy winters and hot summers go along with the country, and it is nice to experience it during one stay. I also went to Albania and Slovenia to participate in two different events in link with two projects that my association implemented, and it was so interesting!
I am glad to have met all these people, and I must say that it is a life-changing experience for me. I can’t express my gratitude to EUni Partners for giving me this wonderful opportunity when I needed it the most.
Thank you a lot EUni Partners for this incredible experience, thank you European Corps of Solidarity for this funding, and most of all, thank you so much to all the people I met and who participate to change me into who I am now. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.